Miss New Jersey Not The Only Boundary-Jumper At Miss America Pageant
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Only Miss New Jersey had to go to court to defend her crown, but several of the other women vying to become Miss America 1986 have competed in more than one state and at least two have faced criticism for divided loyalties.
Miss New Mexico once tried to win crowns in Virginia and Tennessee. Miss Illinois is from Michigan. Miss Nevada competed unsuccessfully to become Miss Mississippi last year. And Miss Arkansas, who goes to college in Louisiana, once competed for that state’s crown.
Pageant rules permit women to compete in state contests if they are residents or students in state colleges. In the case of Miss New Jersey, Toni Georgiana, enrollment in a two-week summer course in health and physical education that she never attended made her eligible for the Miss New Jersey pageant.
First runner-up Laura Ann Bridges sued pageant officials and Miss Georgiana, claiming that the winner was not entitled to her spoils because she misrepresented herself as a bona fide student at Trenton State College.
Two courts refused to override the pageant judges. Albert A. Marks Jr., executive director of the Miss America Pageant, said the rules will probably be changed after this year’s contest to prevent such a controversy from arising again.
″That’s up to them,′ the 21-year-old Miss Georgiana said Sunday after arriving here to begin a week of rehearsals, interviews with judges and preliminary competition in preparation for Saturday night’s finals.
″They’re their rules. I followed their rules. That’s why I’m here,″ said Miss Georgiana, who was the first runner-up in last year’s Miss Pennsylvania pageant.
Several contestants said they sumpathized with Miss Georgiana and with her challenger.
″I think there needs to be more defining (of the rules),″ said Miss Arkansas, Christi Lynn Taunton. ″In this case, both parties are innocent.″
Miss Taunton, 20, is a premedical student at Louisiana Tech University, where she won a local pageant and went on to compete unsuccessfully for the Miss Louisiana crown. Her next two state pageants were in Arkansas.
″I get a lot of flak about going to school at Tech,″ which is only about 80 miles from her home in Camden, Ark., she said.
Miss Illinois, Karen Marie Moncrieff, 21, won her title as a student at Northwestern University. But she was born and reared in Rochester, Mich.
″Reporters hated the fact I was from Michigan,″ said the aspiring actress who considers Illinois ″sort of my adopted state, my adopted home.″
Miss Nevada, Sonja Nall, won her crown after she moved to the West to take a job as a dancer. The 23-year-old previously competed in Mississippi, her home state.
Miss New Mexico, Valerie Joy Faber, at 26 the oldest contestant in the pageant, said she was first runner-up in the state pageant in Virginia, her native state. She went to school in Tennessee, where she also competed and then, after moving to New Mexico, took five stabs at becoming the state queen.
And Miss New York, Jill Renee Privateer, competing in her 14th pageant since her first at age 7, once vied for the title of Miss Florida while living in that state briefly. She is a native of Fredonia, N.Y., and attends college in Boston.
″New York is home,″ she said. ″I could have competed in Massachusetts this year ... (but) I am, at heart, a New Yorker.″
Miss America 1983, Debra Maffett, won her crown competing as Miss California, a title she obtained after three unsuccessful tries to win the pageant in her home state of Texas.